On this day, the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) announced that representatives from Cameroon and Nigeria ended a meeting over the demarcation of the boundary between the two countries with a reaffirmation of their willingness to expedite the process in relation to the land-based areas which remain to be identified.
According to the UNOWA in a news release, members of the so-called Cameroon-Nigeria Mix Commission had been meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, and it was their thirteenth meeting so far, on the implementation of an International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgement regarding the demarcation of the boundary between the two neighouring nations.
In line with reaffirming their willingness to expedite the process for the land-based boundary areas, the parties reviewed their work programme so as to deploy a Joint Technical Team, composed of surveyors and experts, to the field as early as 2013. They also decided to move forward with a pillar emplacement project.
The border had been the subject of intense and sometimes violent disputes between Cameroon and Nigeria for decades until they agreed to a UN-backed process to settle the matter. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, resolved the issue with a ruling on the land and maritime boundary between the two countries in October 2002. The verdict was followed by the 2006 Greentree Agreement – signed under the auspices of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan – under which Nigeria recognized Cameroonian Sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula, one part of the border.
The head of UNOWA, the Secretary General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, served as the chairman of the Commission, which was established in November 2002 by the United Nations – at the request of Presidents Paul Biya and Olusegun Obasanjo of Cameroon and Nigeria, respectively – with the goal of facilitating the implementation of the ICJ ruling.
As at this day, 1,845 kilometers out of a total boundary distance believed to exceed 2,000 kilometers have been located on the ground by the Joint Technical Team. The demarcation of the land boundary is the third component of the mandate of the Commission, UNOWA noted. The two countries agreed on the delimitation of the maritime border in 2007, and the withdrawal and transfer of authority in the Lake Chad area, along the land border and in Bakassi Peninsula, was finalized in 2008.
The meeting held in Abuja on this day also stressed the importance of the fourth component of the mandate, which is addressing the needs of the population affected by the demarcation through confidence-building initiatives and cross border socio-economic projects. According to Djinnit, “Addressing the needs of the affected populations is key, as this will not only give a human dimension to the technical and political processes of the demarcation, but also to bridge the communities together across border in lasting peace.” He also congratulated Cameroon and Nigeria and their respective leaders, President Paul Biya and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for their “unwavering commitment” to the peaceful implementation of the ICJ judgement.